At Madeline’s bar in Brooklyn, I swear I saw the same woman, but of course she couldn’t have been. She had the same built, same tired face. Same white bucket full of flowers she was trying to sell. It was better than begging for change, but not by much.
Dancing at the bar wasn’t nearly as profitable as I had hoped. It also took a serious toll on my psyche. I had to always be on guard for men who were looking for sexual favors or tried to manhandle me. One guy refused to dance with me unless I’d let him feel on my ass so I walked away. Another guy offered me money for a blowjob. When I refused he asked if I’d do it for free.
It didn’t help that one of the regular ladies there, an older woman who’d done this kind of work all her life and whose daughter also worked there, would let guys feel her up and finger her. On my first night there a guy did just that and had his boys take pictures of him with one hand up her skirt and another throwing up peace signs.
This made it harder to make cash, among other things. I wasn’t there to be felt up and I don’t like beer, but I love to dance, and all I wanted was for someone to dance with me. But that was also a problem. If I danced, I would often find myself negotiating prices after the music was over, and more often than not the guys disagreed. And I couldn’t dance if the bar was empty, which kept happening more often than not.
Within a week of my starting there, the owner had opened another location, and business was super slow. There were nights that only a handful of people showed up, and they were not interested in dancing or buying us drinks.
To cut corners, the owner lowered the nightly rate from $50 to $40, $30 if we showed up past 11 PM. The difference was significant. Every dollar I made counted. I was driving from the Bronx to Brooklyn nightly, which was costing me about $20 in gas every two nights. I never had enough cash on hand to fill up the tank, and while I was driving both myself and Madeline, she never offered to spot me for gas, and I never asked.
While I was still filling out job applications during the day, I still needed the cash. A freelance job Todd had set me up with didn’t pan out, and I finally caved and began the process to claim unemployment.
In the meantime I tried to ham it up at the bar as much as I could. I still owed Madeline rent for the month of September, and I hadn’t made any payments on my car. So I went all out.
|The rent was due|
To distract me, the boys took me apple picking that September. We went to upstate New York and Todd and I drove.
We were a little early for the season so we had to climb further up the hill to find ripe apples. Al was lagging behind.
|Dying, some would say|
He was actually starting to get the flu, but someone didn’t get the hint, and spent then entire time taking selfies off his stomach.
And just downright all up in his personal space.
|I’m a cuddler.|
The next day I was sick as a dog. I spent the entire day in bed, coughing until I ran out of breath and passing out. When I still didn’t feel well a day later, I actually felt worse, I called Todd and asked him to bring me medicine. I couldn’t even afford NyQuil.